Its name rolls off the tongue lyrically, but does the tomato called "Costoluto Genovese" taste as good as it sounds? When a cucumber commands a moniker like "Excelsior," does it vanquish the competition for a place in Minnesota gardens?
Since 1982, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers have answered questions like that in their annual seed trials. In 2020, in addition to tomatoes and mini-cucumbers, volunteers rated cauliflower, basil, red lettuce, portulaca (also called moss rose) and white larkspur.
All of the 2020 results have been added to the spreadsheet on the recommended plant varieties from the Master Gardener seed trial page. Gardeners also can view the results of all garden seed trials going back to the start in 1982.
"The fact that we got results back during a difficult year really speaks to the dedication of Extension Master Gardeners," said Tim Kenny, Statewide Program Director. Some Master Gardeners needed to get special permission to plant and tend community gardens where the plants were grown, he noted.
In 2020 a total of 127 Master Gardener volunteers from 46 counties tested 6 varieties of 5 different vegetables, 2 flowers, and 1 herb. Plants were rated based on several criteria including germination rates, productivity and, for edibles, quality of taste.
So how did "Costoluto Genovese" and "Excelsior" fare? Could have been better, could have been worse. The tomato with the lovely name finished third, while the cuke called "Excelsior" proved a bit aspirational with its fourth place finish.